Eurovision 2014: Austria's Conchita Wurst hits back at transphobic criticism and defends the beard
Wurst will perform for Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen
The Austrian entry, real name Tom Neuwirth, will sing “Rise Like a Phoenix” in a gold gown, with full make-up and a well-groomed beard.
However, Wurst has insisted that she has “a very thick skin” and will continue with her set come what may.
“I can only say ‘Thank you for your attention!’” she told the Associated Press.
“If this is only about me and my person, I can live with it. I'm just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard.”
Milonov argued last week that “pervert” Wurst would “insult millions of Russians” by taking part in the “Europe-wide gay parade”. The politician was an architect behind the country’s strict anti-gay propaganda law, which has sparked controversy worldwide.
In response to his comments, Wurst said: “It’s strange that a little facial hair causes that much excitement. I have to add that 80 per cent of autograph requests I get are from Russia and Eastern Europe – and that’s what is important to me.”
Petitions in Russia and Belarus had called for national broadcasters to edit out live coverage of Wurst’s performance, but this is forbidden by the European Broadcasting Union. The organisation has not received any formal complaints, spokesman Jarmo Siim has confirmed.
The 25-year-old Austrian is not the first trans person to enter Eurovision. Israel’s Dana International won the song contest in 1998 having undergone male-to-female gender reassignment surgery prior to competing.
Russia is expected to suffer in the voting for both its rigid stance on homosexuality and the current crisis in Ukraine.
Ukraine's Marija Jaremtjuk and the Russian Tolmachevy Sisters
Russian twins Anastasia and Maria Tolmachevy were booed during the first semi-final in Copenhagen on Tuesday but made it through to Saturday’s final, as did Ukraine’s Mariya Yaremchuk, who was cheered by the crowd.
Votes cast from Crimea will still count for Ukraine, even though Russia has annexed the region, as the phone operator is Ukrainian.
Wurst will have to beat hot favourite Aram MP3 from Armenia, who described her lifestyle as “unnatural” before apologising and insisting he was “joking”.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 50 books for students to read this summer: From Ernest Hemingway to Gillian Flynn
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Hercules, review: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson takes centre stage in preposterous movie
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Game of Thrones Sansa Stark actress Sophie Turner stars in Bastille's 'Oblivion' video
50 Shades of Grey movie trailer declared sexy and sexist on Twitter
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia